A photographer from Life Magazine followed the Scuderia Ferrari racing team and its drivers at the Monaco Grand Prix

Unknown to the general public, Thomas McAvoy is an almost legendary name amongst photojournalism buffs.

He was in fact one of the four original staff photographers who, from the very first issue, helped to make the renowned Life Magazine such a success. Hired in ‘36, when he was just 21, McAvoy worked for the American magazine up until 1960, immortalising presidents, generals, soldiers during training, film stars and sports champions.

In May 1956, exactly sixty years later, McAvoy was sent to Italy and then to the Côte d’Azur to follow the Scuderia Ferrari. The photographer carried out a reportage that started at the Maranello facilities and accompanied the team right up to the Monaco Grand Prix, photographing the four Ferrari drivers (at the time they were not restricted to two as they are today) both on, but particularly off the track, providing us with an unprecedented inside view of the style and attire of the period.

The shots – some of which can be seen in the gallery below – feature the legendary Juan Manuel Fangio, who won his fourth Formula 1 world championship in 1956,  his first and last on board a Ferrari, Eugenio Castellotti, a young driver from Lodi who was 26 at the time, and Peter Collins,  an English playboy with a noble soul (in the last grand prix of the season, despite having a chance of winning the title, Collins  handed his car over to team-mate and title rival Fangio who had pulled up due to a technical problem).

For the record, the race was won by Stirling Moss, an Englishman driving for another Italian team, the Officine Alfieri Maserati, while Collins and Fangio came second since they shared the same car (even that was allowed).

It is interesting to note that to a certain extent these photos marked the end of an era, in that the following year, 1957, another world championship year for Fangio, both Castellotti and Collins lost their lives – the former while testing a car at the Modena Autodrome and the latter in an accident during the German Grand Prix.